Tago Jazz Cafe Gets a New Home

Five years ago, before my friend Ivon came to Manila for a visit, he did a computer search for jazz spots in Manila. Tago Jazz Café was the only name that came up. After he arrived he went to check it out and came back very excited. “There are all these young guys—not the old guys you might associate with jazz—who are very talented,” he said. A few nights later we checked the place out together. I took some photos, and the next day I interviewed Nelson Gonzales, the owner, cook, manager,handyman and drummer whose life’s work was fostering Read More

Filipino Jazz and the Debonair District

One night I heard Debonair District play at Tago Jazz Café. I liked the performance so much that afterwards I suggested to Toma Cayabyab, that we do an interview. We spoke recemtly on Facebook Messenger when he was in Manila and I was in Tagaytay.Thanks to Toma for the photos.

Toma’s story

So, why don’t you tell me about your band, Debonair District?

Okay, we started almost two and a half years ago, so in 2016 when I started studying music at the University of the Philippines. This was actually my second degree; I’d previously majored in film at Ateneo … Read More

Portrait of a Filipino Jazz Musician

I first heard Ryan play the keyboard at Tago Jazz Café in Metro Manila, where he performed with his trio and with other groups, then later at the Ayala Museum. His work made me an instant fan, I think in part because of our love of Keith Jarrett, who speaks of improvising one note at a time. Ryan and I share a common view of inspiration, or, as my favorite music critic, Alan Rich, wrote decades ago in New York magazine, “I am neither a church-goer nor an atheist, and the reason I am not the latter can be found Read More

Jireh Calo Graduates from Berklee

At the end of 2014, Tago Jazz Café in Cubao, Metro Manila, was packed and the audience more attentive than I’d ever seen them. We were all there to watch Jireh Calo in one of her last performances before leaving for Boston to pursue her music studies at the Berklee College of Music, an outstanding music college and performing arts conservatory. Shortly after she arrived in Boston, we had our first interview via Skype, which I posted as “Jireh Calo, a Filipina Musician on Her Way.” (Link) Fast forward to three years later, Jireh is now a Summa Read More

Baihana’s First Album

At the end of October, 2014, I interviewed the three members of the Baihana, which means “woman” in Cebuano. Krina Cayabyab (soprano, songwriter and arranger–center in above photo), Anna Achacoso (soprano–right) and Mel Torre (alto–left) talked about their music and their individual lives. (Link) Recently Baihana celebrated their eighth anniversary with their first album. I attended the album launches at 12 Monkeys in Makati and Historia in Quezon City. Mel and I talked again before the second launch on August 30. (Link)

Mel’s story

I’m a fan, as you know, and I love the album. Why don’t you Read More